‘Uncork Kansas’ pushes to expand state liquor laws

TOPEKA (KSNT) — A group pushing to expand Kansas’ liquor laws is finally hoping for a shot at success.

They’re asking lawmakers to allow grocery and convenience stores to sell more than just 3.2 percent beer, and this could finally be the year that happens.

Strong beer, wine and liquor, that’s what Uncork Kansas would like to make available at grocery and convenience stores.

“We know that Kansans want this because they shop in our grocery and convenience stores everyday and they’re asking for it,” said Jessica Lucas, Uncork Kansas Spokesperson.

The group has been fighting to expand liquor sales for nearly five years, and many agree now is the time to make it happen.

“Right now Dillon’s stores of course sell the 3.2 beer, so it isn’t a leap to move from something like that, where that product is available, to either strong beer or wine in those stores,” said Rep. J.R. Claeys, (R) Salina.

A bill before the Kansas House would allow grocers to carry stronger beer and potentially purchase a liquor license from existing liquor store owner to sell hard spirits and wine.

Opponents worry the sales of strong beer alone could put locally owned liquor stores out of business.

“The liquor store owners in the state of Kansas, live in the state of Kansas. They are a small business which is the backbone of every community. These businesses, almost every penny they make goes back into their local communities,” said Aaron Rosenow, Owner of Vern’s Liquor Store in Topeka.

Others worry about the psychological effect the change could have on children.

“It is not good for young people, particularly kids in elementary and middle school to see alcoholic beverages, particularly hard liquor on the same shelves as they see the orange juice and other things they routinely drink,” said Rep. John Carmichael, (R) Wichita.

But Uncork Kansas says this same system works in dozens of other states and there’s no reason it won’t work here too.

If Uncork Kansas has their way, and the bill is finally passed, you could start seeing grocery shelves stocked with wine and liquor in the next few years.

A House committee will begin hearings on the bill next Monday.

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